Oxnard Council railroading district voting?

By George Miller

The so-called California Voting Rights Act has been used to force municipalities to split up into voting districts to help ensure what some claim is fairer representation. The theory is that disenfranchised minorities would really prefer to elect other disenfranchised minorities, not the most qualified, competent candidates. That is being questioned. This approach would also put district reps, who vote on matters in the interest of an entire city,  out of the reach of accountability of the other voters in that city.  There are obviously both pros and cons to it, since it could make reps more accountable to their neighborhoods.

Now Oxnard has joined the movement to go to district voting. In Oxnard’s case, the excuse is more flimsy, since minority representation is not inhibited by lack of districting. Districting advocates claim that the people living South of Wooley Road (this writer is included in that “class”) currently have no one from their neighborhoods on the Council. According to the 2010 census, 74+% of Oxnard population is Latino, 14% white and the rest mostly Asian/Pacific Islander or black.  There have been people from all those groups on the Council before. There were people from South of Wooley Road on the Council before.

Another excuse given is that no municipality has ever before prevailed in litigation on this.

There is a special City Council meeting at 530 PM 11-27-17 on this.

Here is a chance to do something about that. If nothing else, it would help to sort our officials’ true position on the issue….


Sent to Oxnard Council, City Attorney and City Manager:
I’m told that you might be able to put any litigation on Oxnard on hold until the matter is constitutionally litigated. Comments?
George Miller
From: William P. Curley III <wcurley@lozanosmith.com>
Date: Sat, Nov 4, 2017 at 4:22 PM
Subject:  League of California Cities post re Amicus Brief:  my invitation and Thanks
I serve as the City Attorney for the City of Mission Viejo.  My Firm, Lozano Smith, represents cities, counties, special districts and school districts across the State. My client has received communications from an attorney, asserting that our city is in violation of the California Voting Rights Act. For a number of reasons, we disagree at this time. We will be assessing our options and defenses and anticipate a vigorous response to the allegations. As a part of our due diligence, I researched current activity involving the issues related to the California Voting Rights Act. I found that several cities are in a similar position as Mission Viejo, and all are considering their options to preserve the election processes in their various cities, or refine them to best serve their residents. I also found a private party, an ex-mayor, has commenced a Federal lawsuit challenging the California Voting Rights Act on constitutional grounds (Higginson v. State of California and the City of Poway). 
After reviewing the Federal case, we determined that there is merit in its contentions. We also found other cities or groups are likewise considering that case.
For efficiency, for the mutual support of the involved cities, and fir the good of the public, we are organizing that group of like-minded entities who are dealing with California Voting Rights Act issues. I am in charge of managing and coordinating our informal group and have the goals of:
1. Inviting all interested parties to coordinate with our group.
2. Organizing the preparation of 2-3 or more amicus briefs in support of the efforts to have the Federal Court enjoin the continued application of the California Voters Right Act.
3. Educate the public as to the issues with the statute and the occurrence of unintended consequences that may damage or disrupt communities. Included in this are procedural problems, an inability to use the “real work” facts of a community to preserve local control and a focus on Race as an election criteria- that was not the intent of the law but it is often the result.
4. Seeking the support of communities, in whatever way they can assist in supporting the injunction and in seeking legislative changes to the law.
5. Obtaining signatures of support for the injunction related Amicus briefs, and declarations regarding the real world consequences of the existing form of the statute. Also, seeking support for revising the law to make it more practical in the real world.
To the extent you, your colleagues, your City, your neighboring cities and any interested entities would like to learn more, join or assist us, I’d love to hear from you.
Time is critical as we believe our filings in support of the injunction are due on November 17, 2017.  To that end we are working together among ourselves and with the Virginia based law firm that has filed the Federal lawsuit. 
We are aware of two Amicus briefs in production, (San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments-Kim Barlow, and Mission Viejo-Lozanosmith), as well as declarations in support of our position.
Our group may pursue a third brief, or other support, in our narrow timeframe to act.
Your support, and that of your City and others, will be crucial in our success. We thank you for your interest and your support.
Below is the invitation posted with the cooperation of the League of California Cities.  My contact information is on it and I encourage you to share this freely.
Best regards,
Bill Curley 
— — — — — — —
Amicus Brief in Support of Plaintiff’s Constitutional Challenge to the California Voting Rights Act
Many cities have received California Voting Rights Act demands over the last few years related to transitioning from at-large to district-based elections to correct alleged racially polarized voting. I’m aware, as has been discussed on this forum, that several cities are currently using the “safe harbor” provisions of AB 350 to avoid the risks and costs associated with protracted litigation, or otherwise already transitioned to district-based elections.
As you may be aware, a lawsuit was filed in federal district court last month against the Attorney General and the City of Poway, to have the CVRA declared unconstitutional by way of violating the Fourteenth Amendment. In an effort to maximize local control and our shared view that the CVRA’s unintended/improper consequences are unconstitutional and should be amended to mirror the federal Voting Rights Act, one of my office’s city clients has teamed up with other cities with the intention to file an amicus brief in support of the plaintiff in the aforementioned lawsuit.
If your city or entity is interested in joining this amicus brief effort, please contact Bill Curley of Lozano Smith at:

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One Response to Oxnard Council railroading district voting?

  1. Bruce Boyer November 29, 2017 at 12:50 pm

    I expect that the current power structure pushes this as they perceive it will be to their benefit. It would make future recalls harder as recallers would need signatures by council district… More barriers to liberty.


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